Blessed are the meek… (Matthew 5:5)

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 27 Feb 2011

Intro – Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23)

…the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.


But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.'  But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 


So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.


My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.


The unforgiving servant was not meek and he was not blessed. He acted arrogantly and aggressively toward his fellow servant, and his lord punished him as a result. We all have a good reason to be meek and gracious toward our fellow human-beings because our Lord Jesus has been very gracious to us in forgiving us of our debt of sin against Him.


4:25. And many crowds followed Him

            from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and beyond the Jordan.

5:1 And when He saw the crowds, He went up to the mountain,

      and when He sat down, his disciples came up to Him.

5:2 And when He opened His mouth, He began teaching them, saying,

5:3 “Blessed are the ones who are lowly in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

5:4 “Blessed are the ones who mourn, because it is they who will be comforted.

5:5 “Blessed are the meek, because it is they who will inherit the earth.”


 (Other scripture citations below are from the NASB)


We see that the people who are blessed are first of all humble before God and secondly mourners over sin, but in this third beatitude, we see that they are also humble before other people as well.

What does it mean to be meek?


·         Vincent comments on classical Greek usage: Aristotle - mean between stubborn anger and righteous indignation – equanimity, Plato - opposite of fierceness or cruelty, Herodotus -  opposite of anger

·         Thayer: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness

·         Calvin: Calm and quiet, not easily provoked by wrongs, do not sulk over offences, ready to endure anything than pay the wicked the same back.

·         JFB: Lowly and gentle carriage… opposite of high-mindedness and a quarrelsome and revengeful spirit

·         A.T. Robertson: It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy.

·         Hendriksen: “Not resentful… bears no grudge, finds refuge in the Lord… Yet meekness is not weakness...not spinelessness… It is submissiveness under provocation, the willingness rather to suffer than to inflict injury. The meek person leaves everything in the hand of Him who loves and cares.” Illustration?

Meekness is an attribute of our Lord which He wants His people to mirror:

·         Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.;

·         Mat 21:4-5  This [triumphal entry of Jesus] took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"

·         Mat 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Biblical usage of this word:

1.      Meekness typifies those who are saved by God:

§         Job 36:15 He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, And opens their ear in time of oppression.

§         Psa 25:9 He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way…
34:2 My soul will make its boast in the LORD;  The humble will hear it and rejoice.

§         Psa 37:11 But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. (This 3rd beatitude lifts its main words straight out of the Septuagint of this verse.)

§         Psa 76:9 When God arose to judgment, To save all the humble of the earth…
147:6 The LORD supports the afflicted; He brings down the wicked to the ground… 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people, He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

§         Zep 3:12 "But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD.

§         James 1:21  Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility* receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

2.      Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit and a characteristic of a Godly life

§         Galatians 5:22-23 The fruit of the Spirit is love… gentleness*, self-control; against such things there is no law.

§         Num 12:3 …Moses was very humble, more than any man… on the face of the earth.

§         Eph 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness*, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

§         Colossians 3:12  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness* and patience;

§         1 Timothy 6:11  But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness*.

§         Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration* for all men.

§         James 3:13  Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness* of wisdom.

§         1Pet 3:1-4 …wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

3.      Meekness is necessary to successfully confront sin in others:

§         2 Cor 10:1  Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness* and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! (cf 1 Cor 4:21)

§         Galatians 6:1  Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness*; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

§         and in witnessing: 1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness* and reverence;

§         2 Timothy 2:25  with gentleness* correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

…because it is they who will inherit the earth(τι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσι τὴν γῆν)

-          Contradicts the world which says it is the assertive and revengeful who take over power. (Calvin said that the proverb, “You must howl with the wolves, for whoever makes himself a sheep will soon come to be eaten…” comes from the devil!)

-          We don’t “inherit the wind” – this is not “pie in the sky;” we inherit a solid reality: the earth.

 “Inherit the land” in the OT

-          Promised to those who fear the Lord and their descendents: Psa 25:12-13 Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, And his descendants will inherit the land. (cf. Num 33:54)

-          Promised to those who forsake anger and humbly wait on the Lord: Psa 37:8-11 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.  For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity… 22  For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off… 29  The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever… 34  Wait for the LORD and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit κατακληρονομησαι the land γην; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

-          Promised to those who take refuge in Jehovah: Isa 57:13  “When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you. But the wind will carry all of them up, and a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in Me will inherit κτησονται the land γην And will possess κληρονομησουσιν My holy mountain.”

N.T. switches from “Land” to “Eternal life” & “the Kingdom”:

-          Heb 6:12ff (so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit* the promises.) speaks of Abraham who was given a promised land, then calls us to be imitators of him so that we also inherit the promises. Together with the clear indication in Heb. 11 that the O.T. saints did not gain a lasting earthly possession of land but looked to an eternal place in heaven, it appears that the promise of a land to the O.T. believers symbolized a heavenly inheritance, Thus Jesus, in the N.T., switches from a focus on a land inheritance in this earth to a heavenly inheritance of eternal life in the kingdom of God:

-          Mat 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit* eternal life.”

-          Mat 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit* the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

N.T. is also explicit about who will NOT inherit the kingdom:

-          1Cor 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit* the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit* the kingdom of God.

-          1Cor 15:50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot  inherit* the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit* the imperishable. (cf. Gal 4:30)

-          Gal 5:19-21 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit* the kingdom of God.

Unmerited favor

Present and future:

-          “All things, in short, are theirs - in the possession of that favor which is life, and of those rights which belong to them as the children of God - whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are theirs (1Cor 3:21-22); and at length, overcom­ing, they ‘inherit all things’ (Rev 21:7). Thus are the meek the only rightful occupants of a foot of ground or a crust of bread here, and heirs of all coming things.” (JFB)

-           “By first and most of all seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness, “all these things’ (food, clothing, etc.) are graciously bestowed upon them as an extra gift (Mat. 6:33)… But the most complete fulfillment of the promise is reserved for the future when, at Christ’s return in Glory, the meek will inherit the new heaven and earth… (Rev. 21:1ff).” ~Hendriksen

-          Rev 21:1-7 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them… and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain… I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”


  1. Don’t fall for the lie that you will be disenfranchised if you don’t stand up for your rights!
  2. Look to Jesus humbly for your salvation and your undeserved inheritance in heaven.
    (“In meekness receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls” James 1:21)
  3. Extend grace to people as Jesus did when he came into Jerusalem, and forgive as God has forgiven you (opening parable of unforgiving servant) Look to God for the strength to suffer provocation rather than get revenge.
  4. Cultivate meekness/gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit in your life “flee greed and pursue… gentleness” (1 Tim 6:11) “continue to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col 3:12)
  5. Are there any people that you have a difficult time showing consideration/ deference/ gentleness to? Ask God to enable you to do it!
  6. Have you noticed that a brother or sister is having a hard time with a certain person? “Remind them to be… showing every consideration for [them]” (Titus 3:1-2)
  7. Whenever we confront another person for their sin (Gal 6:1) or share the Gospel with a non-Christian (1 Pet 3:15), we must double-check our message. Is it gentle?
  8. Believe that you have a marvelous inheritance in Heaven, and continue with faith and patience until you receive it! (Heb 6:12)


 “As toward God, therefore, meekness accepts His dealings without murmur or resistance as absolutely good and wise. As toward man, it accepts opposition, insult, and provocation, as God's permitted ministers of a chastening demanded by the infirmity and corruption of sin; while, under this sense of his own sinfulness, the meek bears patiently “the contradiction of sinners against himself,” forgiving and restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness, considering himself, lest he also be tempted (Gal 6:1-5).” ~Marvin Vincent


“As we must be sure that Christ is the only guardian of our lives, then our only course is to hide under the shadow of His wings… Thus in the face of the wildness and rage of [our] enemies, [we] are covered by the protecting hand of God, and though… surrounded with every danger, [we] live securely under God’s protection, and even now enjoy this grace of God. This is enough for [us] until, at the last day, [we] reach the inheritance of the world.” ~John Calvin